The pandemic does not stop the university in helping students and alumni to land a job. This year, the annual autumn career fair was held virtually with the help of a platform called ‘Career Fair Plus’ (an app is also available on the App Store and Play Store). The event was on the 5th of October from 11.00-17.00. And the career centre has been advertising it weeks before the event. If you are a student or alumni, I am sure you will receive an email from the career centre containing the advertisement and guide for the event. Or if you are the type of person that does not check your email often, you won’t miss the advertisement on Minerva!
Prior to the event, we have to create an account for the Career Fair. You can do this by downloading the application Career Fair Plus on your phone. This account enables us to upload our CV, connect our LinkedIn and add other data (such as email address and telephone number) for the ease of companies in contacting us. It might seem complicated, but the career centre has a video guide for it. You can also access it via your laptop by visiting the Career Fair Plus website.
In my opinion, this virtual career event was very straight forward to access. In fact, I found it more accessible than a regular career event. I can narrow down the companies by setting up:
- Degree discipline (your major goes here)
- Opportunities (what kind of job you are looking for? Placement? Graduate job? Internship?)
- Are you a postgraduate? (tick yes or no)
- Do you need a Tier 2 visa sponsor?
By filling those, we can see which companies suit us best. This is certainly something we didn’t have in a traditional career fair. In this one, we are able to explore available companies along with their description with just one click.
With a lot of employers attending the event, you should have a strategy to be as efficient as possible! With the career fair moving online, it means one-to-one interactions feel more personal and it’s easier to “move around”. We don’t have to walk around in the middle of a crowd and visit all employers to search for the one that we want. Instead, it is easier to focus on a few that you’re really interested in and book a meeting! The booking process is relatively easy, you’ll be shown several time slots ranging from 11.00-17.00. Then, you just need to press the ‘booking’ button at the time of your choice.
Yes, you may think that the slots would eventually be fully booked. But no worries! There is also a virtual drop-in feature which works the same as the appointment. I, (Anastasia) could not find any company left to book a one to one appointment. Yet, I did several drop-ins and still had the same opportunity as an appointment session to ask questions with employers. In fact, I even got a longer time slot compared to if I booked an appointment which is only 10 minutes.
The drop-in feature works the same as the appointment. The only difference is, the drop-in sessions can be accessed during the event. After browsing the company on the Career Plus’ homepage, simply click on the company of our choice. Then, you’ll see their description, requirement, and drop-in button/link. Simply click on the drop-in button and you’ll be directed to a video call window. Next, click on the “knock” button to get the employers’ attention. You might have to wait for a moment for the employer to let you in as they might be talking to other people at that moment. Once the employer lets you in, just talk to them like your usual Zoom/team meeting. When you are done, there is a “leave” button you can press.
I had a drop in with Mondelez, Arla, PepsiCo, and Mars. None of their appointment bookings was available when I registered in the Career Fair Plus. Yet I managed to get insightful and useful information from them.
I (Joceline) attended a one-on-one meeting with Student Circus, which is a platform specifically for international students. They provide support and advice for graduating students, and you are able to look for employers that can sponsor a Tier 2 Visa as well! These one-to-one meetings are great to get to know the company even more and ask more personal questions.
A few tips from them for international students are:
- Start Early!
I’m only starting my 2nd year but I have set out a goal for my future career which gives me enough time to plan and prepare. Starting out early is beneficial as you can gain more experience and plan ahead! Some international students leave it to the last minute, and by this time it might be too late to secure a graduate job in the UK.
- Be Flexible
Just because you’re studying a particular degree, does not mean you have to follow a career path in the same field! During your degree, you will develop various transferrable skills that can be useful in different career paths. So if you want to try things outside of your field, don’t shy away from it!
- Ask for Advice
Here at the University of Leeds, we have the Career Centre. They can provide advice for CV’s and run mock interviews with you. Make sure to use these services to optimize your CV and interview skills.
- Don’t Underestimate the Competition
There seems to be a tendency for students to take things a bit more lightly, so we often forget how competitive job-hunting can be. Keep this in mind and always strive for the best, you need to be able to stand out from other applicants!
After my meeting, I attended a workshop by Ernst & Young about building confidence and strength-based recruitment. An important point that they said was during the job process, most people fail not because of their technical skills, but because of their lack of confidence. If you lack confidence, then you would not be able to talk about your skills and apply your knowledge. Building personal resilience was also another topic in the workshop. A few tips to build personal resilience is to look at failure from a different perspective, remember your strengths, and keep in mind what is the most important thing to you!
Lastly, I had a meeting with P&G regarding their placement opportunities. It was insightful to be able to talk with someone from the team and understand the different types of placements available.
Personally, my (Anastasia) experience was not that smooth as for some reason my microphone was not working. Thus, the person I’m talking to couldn’t hear anything I said. But they are supportive and offered me an alternative which is a telephone call to my phone. So, I can still hear and see them like normal. Aside from that, I am happy with the overall event! While for me (Joceline), the event went really smoothly and I had no technical issues whatsoever during the meetings.
Regardless of your background, visiting a Career Fair will always be beneficial for you! You are able to meet potential employers, gain new insight, and get more tips to be more successful. The next career fair will be held on the 22nd of October and it’s specific for STEM students.